Tila’oneniti’s Story: A New Meaning to Retired

Occupation: Store Owner

Location: Tonga

Tila’oneniti Vea’ila is 63 years old. She is married with five children, two of which still live in her home. Her two daughters live in New Zealand, and her oldest son lives with his own family in Nuku’alofa, the capital.


When Tila’oneniti graduated high school, she went to work for Tonga Communication. She worked there until she retired in 2010. Though retired isn’t quite the right word. She joined SPBD in 2010 and started a handicraft business. In 2015, she and her husband moved; therefore, she closed her business.


Recognizing a Business Opportunity


After she was settled, Tila’oneniti realized that there was no store in their new community. She decided to open one, so she came back to SPBD for financing. She used her loan to build her store and purchase inventory.


Her SPBD training also allowed her to understand the differences between household budgeting and finance vs. business accounting. As a result, she says, “My husband and sons have to pay for their purchases from my store. I have profits to make and loan repayments to consider!”


Help During a National Tragedy


When the volcano erupted in January 2022, she applied for another loan to maintain her business during incredibly difficult times. The loans helped with her business and also a few home repairs. During this challenging time, the loan even allowed her to expand her business by exporting Tongan-made items such as kafa, kiekie, and ta’ovala in different sizes and patterns to her family overseas. They now sell her goods. SPBD is truly a family affair.




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